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Publishers Lunch Junior
by:  Jacob and Jonah
June 4, 2007

A Kid's Deal

Villard Books is publishing FLIGHT EXPLORER, a new graphic novel series for kids by the creators behind the FLIGHT graphic novel series, for "middle grade" readers. The editor is Chris Schluep.

It's an anthology of short stories told in graphic novel format. They say "contributors range from artists at video game companies and big film studios to childrens' book illustrators. It will publish in March, 2008.

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June 3, 2007

Interview with Holly Black (famous author)

I met with Holly Black about the new series, Spiderwick Cycle Two -- Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles. The first book of three in the new series is THE NIXIE'S SONG, out in the fall. The second book is called A GIANT PROBLEM.

The new book takes place in Florida. There is a new main character, but it still has two old characters, Simon and Jared, who are a little bid older now. Mallory sits this one out. From what Holly told me, the new main character goes to a bookstore and buys a version of the field guide and thinks it's all untrue. Then she meets Jared and Simon, who are there on vacation to see their father.

Some things I learned from our interview: When Holly and illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi were on tour they asked people they met to write entries in a log book if they had ever seen faeries or anything like that. "We were shocked at how many adults and kids said yes. They would say absolutely, I saw a little man and he was at the window."

But she hasn't. "I've never seen anything and I've always wanted to.... It's a constant source of misery to me!" Holly did say, "My mom has seen a bunch of ghosts. I've always wanted to have that experience. I have a friend who said she saw a ghost in my house! My mom always said the house I grew up in was haunted."

Sometimes she writes in a coffee shop and I asked if kids ever come up and ask for an autograph, but "that's never happened. It would be awesome if it did."

Some of the inspiration for her characters: "I was an older sister and I was mean, much in the way Mallory was mean." She got the idea for the character Simon from her husband -- he was always bringing home animals. One day she came home and there was a parrot in her house. A guy gave her husband a parrot and he brought it home.

In their research, they found a funny folklore story about a man who was building a house in the middle of nowhere and everybody kept telling him before you build your house you should consult a faerie expert. He thought that was a stupid idea, and he built his house there. Then, every night he would hear banging on his doors and his pots and pans would clang together.

So finally he went to faerie expert. The expert said, "You could have built your house on a faerie path. There's one path that faeries always use to travel back and forth. They're not going to move for you, I can tell you." The expert came over and stayed for the night, and he told the man you're on a faerie path. But your whole house isn't on the path, only a small corner.

The solution? "We cut off that part of your house." He took out a saw, cut off that corner of the house, and since then, he's never had that problem again. Occasionally, just a loud wind rushing by that corner of the house, just to remind him that it's the faerie path.

Spiderwick is an amazing bestselling young readers� series. I loved the first series and I hope the second will be just as good. It was awesome to meet Holly Black. Reading a series and then meeting the author and asking her questions was just amazing.

***

Saturday night I went to a Spiderwick party. There was a documentary on the making of the new cycle by Holly and Tony, and there were pictures from the new movie. In theory, they tried to transform us into sprites. We said a spell all together and then the whole room filled with smoke and two giant steel doors opened up. We went into this room that was full of giant materials -- parking meters the size of me; a hamburger the size of a car tire; tables with giant spearmint gum packages; mushrooms chest high. They had a food table set up in front of a giant pair of blue jeans. We all got membership cards for the International Sprite Association.

Before we turned into sprites, the first room was a study and laboratory almost exactly like the description of Arthur Spiderwick's laboratory in the books. The used actual props from the movie (it's coming out February 2008 from Paramount and Nickelodeon). One of those props was the seeing stone�also the name of the second book. There's a stone with a hole in it; if you hold it up to your eye you can see fantastical creatures, like goblins. This fits into an eyepiece that has different magnifying glasses on it so you can see small creatures. We got to see the actual ones that they used in the movie. It turns out Hollywood uses short cuts. It looks exactly like the seeing stone, but it's made out of rubber. The eyepiece is mostly made out of plastic and rubber, also.
-- Jacob

Discoveries All Over
Jacob being a car lover, he was immediately drawn to the detailed pictures on the covers of the up and coming Chronicle publications, "Mustang Dynasty" and "Corvette Dynasty." These books will come packed with CD's with realistic car sounds and pockets with various artifact sheets containing information on the car shown. But they only had dummy copies available.

When we stopped by Penguin Group, we were happy to find a large poster advertising "Snakehead" showing a stormy sea with a large, graphic snake floating above it. A publicity manager told us that this new installment of Anthony Horowitz's "Alex Rider" series about a 14-year-old MI6 spy had come as a surprise, seeing as there was some question to if "Arkangel" would be the final book. This new book has the UK cover, and Penguin will soon be reissuing the whole series with the UK covers which they feel are bolder than the US ones. If you have read the series, or are just a big fan of the whole "James Bond genre" of books then you should look forward to the release of this book in the fall.

FOR BOYS ONLY, Feiwel and Friends' forthcoming book, is need-to-have for brains and ruffians alike. It has magic tricks, tells you how to escape from different situations, and includes lot of information about super-charged cars (once again, a favorite item for Jacob). Senior VP and publisher Jean Feiwel says, "It is Guinness Book of World Records meets Worst Case Scenario Survival Guide." Feiwel feels the book is more targeted at kids than THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS. This book looks to combine substance and a whole lot of fun.

After we were enticed by HarperCollins' great pitch to us involving food and titles that went with them, ("We wanted to make them hungry for good books," said Nicole Mathieu of Harper) it is only fair to talk about some of their upcoming publications. Harper's biggest fall release for teens is ANA'S STORY by Jenna Bush. This book is about her work in Panama for Unicef and her friendship with a woman named Ana whose parents died of AIDS, and how she had been abused and gotten AIDS as well. This book is targeted at teens interested in activism, and is expected to inspire people to get out and do something about issues in the world.

In middle grade releases go, Harper is publicizing "Nightmare Academy" by the co-executive producer of "Arrested Development" Dean Lorey. This is a fantasy set in contemporary times and is going to be made into a movie by Universal. Another great book to be on the lookout for is the pop-up "Chronicles of Narnia." This book's pop-up scenes are amazing in detail and relevance to the story. In the same way that movies bring stories to life, this book gives Narnia life on a physical piece of paper.

"Camel Rider" looks to be a great new book (I read the first chapter already) set in a fictional town in the Middle East. It is about an Australian and an Arab boy who, after a political incident, have to fend for themselves in the mountains with no common language. The main points of this book are friendship and mutual respect when you put yourself on the line with only trust. From what we could learn from the editor Judy O'Malley, the author saw that children tend to get past things like political struggles quickly, to achieve friendship and peace.

At the Henry Holt booth, we were delighted and saddened to receive a copy of Lloyd Alexander’s final book "The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio." This book is set in an Aladdin-like Arabia, and is supposedly more adventurous of a story than Alexander’s others. From what we have been told, Alexander did actually finish and edit this book before he died recently in his mid 80s.
-- Jonah

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June 3, 2007

MiYu Magic Stones: Webkinz for Bookstores?

This is extremely big in Holland right now. It�s a collection of stones that come in a pouch or a small chest-like box. Most people want to try and collect all three of their birthstones first, and then you want to collect all the rest -- 40 in total.

The booth had a chart of all the 40 stones and a person would ask you your birth sign. They would pull out a pamphlet showing what your birthstones are. They would have you reach into a box and you�d reach your hand in, feel around, and take out a stone.

At BEA I got a stone for free. They gave me a necklace to attach it to -- the bottom is a swirl of expandable metal, and you push your stone into it.

From what the people there told me, you don't choose the stone, the stone chooses you. I picked Tiger's Eye, the stone of courage. My brother picked onyx; it's a dream stone and said, "you're a mysterious magician." Which he is -- he was doing card tricks for the editor of poker books in the ESPN Clubhouse (thanks for the hot dogs). If you buy the stones from a store, it gives you a little code, and you go to their website, http://www.miyumagicworld.com, and you create an account and register your stones. It will show you more information about your birth sign. For every stone you get, they're supposed to possess different powers.

MiYu Magic stones will come to America and will hopefully be available on Amazon through a Canadian reseller (Winscott Corporation in Toronto) by fall. Once you've purchased your stones, one percent of the funds will go to a charity (like Unicef) -- you get to choose which one.

There's an illustrated fantasy children's novel, called The Emerald Boy, that tells the tale of the MiYu islands. MiYu creator Yolanda Eijgenstein said kids liked the stones so much and the interactive site, they wanted to "visit" the magical islands the stones come from. Tais Teng is the author of the book that brings the MiYu world to life. The islands lie in a magic circle, and each island has the form of a zodiac sign. The stones "come" from the islands, where dragons devour rocks and phantom owls fly into your dreams and steal your memories.

Personally, this was the best thing that I got at the BEA not including books (out of all the bookmarks, pins, stickers, etc.) I got the Tiger's Eye stone and I think it looks amazing and they're fun to wear. I really think this is cool; when it comes to America, I want to get more of these.

Their website says: "Since last year she launched the MiYu Magic Stones concept in the Netherlands. In less than 4 months more than 92.000 kids visited the website and more than 10,000 started collecting MiYu Magic Stones. More than 1.6 million hits on the website and in 200 stores/outlets the products were temporarily sold out."

Interview with Suzanne Collins
While visiting the Scholastic booth we had the unexpected and wonderful experience of meeting and interviewing Suzanne Collins, author of Underland Chronicles. She was there to sign for her new extremely captivating and well written (Editor's note: the writing of this piece was temporarily delayed while the reporter could not resist reading a chunk of the book) fifth book in the series "Gregor And The Code of Claw." On a fun note, she carries a thing of wonderful ink stamps with things that relate to the books with her for signings. Mine got stamped with a rat.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for this series?
A: Collins told us that she was thinking about "Alice in Wonderland" and how Alice had fallen through a rabbit hole. Seeing as her kids had lived in the city their whole lives she thought that the idea of falling through a rabbit hole would be alien to them…but a manhole, if you fell through there you would find this story.

Collins said that one day she woke-up after dreaming about a boy who had been falling, and she knew that he would meet cockroaches and that it would be a war story. Also she knew that there would be conflict between other giant creatures.

Q: How do you go about writing your books?
She told us that the prophecies that occur in the book are the first things that she writes because then she knows the whole story.

Q: Where do you get the names of the characters from?
This was the list that she told us:
* Humans - Either from Shakespeare or from words for light, stars or the sun (because light is so precious)
* Bats - Greek deities
* Rats - Graphic names that depict their personalities
* Mice - Names that have to do with math

Q: Where did you get the name Gregor from?
A: She told us this name comes from two places. The first one is from a novel where a man named Gregor wakes up one morning to find that he has been turned into a cockroach, and since she was thinking about cockroaches…why not?

The second is from the scientist Gregor Mendel, who was the father of genetics, and since all of the creatures in the Underland are genetically mutated…connect the dots.

Q: What points do you try to get across in your books?
A: Her answer to this question was that her main themes in her books are about war instead of peace, and conflict instead of cooperation. Also she tries to convey what happens when choose war or peace and the results of the actions on a personal level and a world-wide scale.

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June 3, 2007

The Warriors Series, Super Edition, Firestar's Quest (Harper)

The whole series is about cats that are in different clans, but this super-edition is just about the adventure of one particular cat, Firestar coming in August/September. This is a big series, with a couple of different series. All of my friends in my class are reading them, and I want to read them, too. If you like animal fiction, these sound like good books. I think it's an intriguing series.

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